Drinking an 18-Year-Old Barleywine, or (The Effects of Aging Beer)

Anyone that is into properly aged beer, whether they dabbled with a 6-month-old stout or curate a beer cellar going back decades, can tell you the exact beer that started it all for them. For me, it was a 2009 Avery Mephistopheles I drank in 2012. The velvety mouth feel, mellowed booze, smoothed out bitterness, and heightened caramel made it a near perfect experience.

Since then, I’ve cultivated a small, but hand-picked, group of beers that I look forward to diving into soon, because really what’s the point of aging beer if they’re just going to be unearthed in the year 2145 by the roving hordes of Lord Humongous and converted to fuel. I intend to enjoy them while civilization and I still stand.

With that in mind, I delve deeper into my hobby of not drinking beer and secluding it in the dark like Paul Dano in Prisoners, and turn to the studies of smarter men than me to determine just what is going on inside that bottle. To apply this knowledge, I also drink an 18-year-old Barleywine to taste nearly two decades worth of science. Here’s what I found.

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Sierra Nevada – Bigfoot (Whiskey Barrel-Aged) 2015 Review

Sierra Nevada - Barrel Aged BigfootAll You Need to Know

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing
Style: Barleywine (American)
ABV: 11.9%
Cost: $20 (24oz)
Glassware: Teku!, Snifter
Temp: 55°F
Availability: From Time to Time
Purchased@: Hunger-N-Thirst

Quick Take: On first sip, my mind was set on giving this a firm pass, especially at $20 a bottle. But, a simple change refocused my taste buds and I found a rather enjoyable beer swimming in vanilla, brown sugar, coconut, and whiskey heat, though the hoppier elements of Bigfoot are lost. While I’m lukewarm on whiskey barrel aging in general, this is one of the more successful I’ve had.

→Full Review